For most of history, the paper has been made from plants and trees. The fibers in these plants were made to produce a material that can be used for writing and other uses. It was not long ago that the hemp plant was also used to make paper. The Chinese made the first-ever hemp paper and spread across the entire globe. However, during the 19th century, the use of hemp to make paper became restricted and hemp paper slowly died.
Fortunately, around the time hemp became legal in the United States and several other countries all over the world, hemp paper made a resurgence. The fact that the production of hemp paper is much more beneficial than the ones that we use today makes it even more convincing to produce hemp paper more. But, what is hemp paper and how is it made?
How Hemp Paper is Made?
Hemp paper is made through the use of fibers from hemp. Two major types of fibers can be harvested in the hemp plant. One is the long bast fibers which can be found in the outer portion of the stem while the pulp fibers are found in the inner portion of the stem. Long bast fibers are typically thin and coarse while pulp fibers are soft and more malleable. Using pulp fibers are also a lot easier to do as they are very soft and easy to manipulate.
Just like making the usual paper that we use today, making hemp paper involves the process of extraction and removal of moisture. The hemp pulp fibers are pulled from the stem and separated from other plant materials. They are gathered and soak in water and are crushed or pounded until it becomes a pulp slurry.
When making paper in the modern era, some chemicals are used to ensure the quality of the paper. If you want to make it as natural as possible, you can skip the use of chemicals or additives by spreading the slurry over and pressing them to remove the water as much as possible. Pressing the slurry continuously over some time should dry out the material and once it has dried out, it is now what we call hemp paper.
Uses of Hemp Paper
Hemp paper is commonly used as a specialty paper due to its restricted production. It is relatively made for special occasions such as special packaging or for wrapping gifts. Some use hemp paper for writing while others use it as cosmetic tissue paper. Apart from these uses, hemp paper is commonly used around the world for writing in general however, it may come at a hefty price as only a few companies all over the world are producing hemp paper due to legal restrictions.
Benefits of Hemp Paper
People are slowly becoming more and more aware of the fact that hemp paper is more beneficial to us humans than normal paper. Here are some of the benefits of using hemp paper in general.
As a producer, hemp paper is more cost-effective and can produce more paper than the usual plant materials used to make normal paper. Hemp contains 77% cellulose while wood only has around 40 to 50 percent. Cellulose is an important ingredient and substance used to create paper. It holds and binds the materials together to make the paper. The more cellulose you have the stronger it holds together thereby it can be produced more effectively.
With that in mind, hemp paper also has more durability and quality than normal paper. Since it has more cellulose molecules than the usual paper, it can hold the paper together more effectively thus ensuring that you have better quality.
Some might argue that hemp has lesser lignin than wood. It makes up for the cellulose content which makes the paper more durable. Lignin is the compound that holds the paper together and makes it stiff but with the right technique, this can be achieved with the use of hemp fibers. Since there is a little amount of lignin to the mixture, there is less need for using chemicals to remove them and can even be skipped altogether.
One major benefit of using hemp plants to produce hemp paper is its ability to grow. Hemp plants grow faster than trees thus they can provide more materials in making paper than wood. Hemp plants provide paper up to 4 times using the same amount of land compared to trees. Hemp plants can be harvested after several months to produce paper while people would have to wait until the trees mature over the years before they can be used.
Hemp plants are more time-efficient when it comes to producing the materials needed to make paper. The faster growth rate means that it can supply the increasing demands for materials to make the hemp paper. The high yielding potential should be able to cover all the needs in making hemp paper.
Speaking of high yield production, this could only mean that we can save the environment by cutting lesser trees in the process. The production of hemp plants would only take several months and the land can be recycled to grow another batch. There would be no need for us to cut down our precious trees just to make a disposable product. We must be more mindful of our environment now that it is becoming a very alarming issue for our planet.
Hemp paper can also be recycled up to seven times while paper from trees can only be recycled up to three times. This is a big deal knowing that normal paper uses trees to make them hence efficiently recycling them is key to preventing more trees from being cut down. With the use of hemp paper and its ability to be recycled several more times than normal paper, this could mean that we can save more trees from getting cut. The benefits of recycling such as low waste and greenhouse gases can also be achieved.
While it is still being frowned upon to plant and produce hemp plants all over the world, the use and benefits of hemp paper are slowly gaining the attention it deserves. Time and time again, we always find a way to protect our environment and allow nature to help us with our daily lives. It may be a long way to go before we can finally use hemp paper legally but with the overwhelming benefits, it is only a matter of time.